Since a young age, I have always loved almonds! As I studied nutrition more, I discovered how exceptionally good they are for us as well! They feature in several of the Healthy Cake Recipes in Volume One of The Alchemist’s Cookbook Series, including three of the Chocolate Brownies Recipes. In Volume 2 of the Alchemist’s Cookbook Series - Breakfasts-Light Bites-Breads & Soups, they also feature in a number of recipes, including The Blood-Stabilising Breakfast Pancakes and the Yummy-licious Kale Chips.
Almonds are part of the “sweet” category of foods and thus are great for bringing the spleen and stomach into balance. They are also the only nut which is alkalising for the body; all other nuts are acidic in nature. Why this is important is that often, with our modern lifestyles, our bodies can become increasingly acidic as we consume more refined sugars; processed foods; fast foods etc, leading to our body getting out of balance. Having a handful of almonds can not only give you an instant energy boost, but can also start to re-alkalise your body so that it moves back to the preferred neutral acid/alkaline balance our bodies require for optimum health. Here are some additional nutritional and healthy facts about almonds:-
Almonds are naturally high in AMPK, which stands for Activated Protein Kinase. This is a type of enzyme which is composed of two special amino acids called serine and threonine. AMPKis the enzyme responsible for telling our bodies when to use glucose in situations where we have activated our metabolism, through exercise. Our bodies suddenly feel that there is a lack of fuel and so quickly switch on this important enzyme to kick-start our metabolism. This results in our beginning to burn fat as though we are doing exercise, even though we may be at our desk or reading a book! Thus these types of foods are fabulous for countering obesity and Type 2 Diabetes
A small handful, around 28g, serving of almonds contains 3.5g fibre; 6 g protein; 14 g of fat (9 of which are mono-unsaturated – i.e. good fat!); 37% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of Vitamin E; 32% of the RDA of Manganese and 20% of the RDA for Magnesium. This small amount also contains a goodly amount of copper; Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and phosphorus
Only 85-90% of calories in any one serving of almonds are absorbed by the body because the fat is too difficult to access and break down
Almonds are very high in antioxidants, which are the free-radical scavengers of the body, dispelling any “naughty cells” as I call them and encouraging the production of healthy cells in their place
These antioxidants are mainly found in the brown skin and so eating whole almonds is best for your health
A clinical trial of 60 male smokers found that 84g of almonds per day reduced oxidative stress biomarkers by 23-34% over a 4-week period. This result also backed up previous studies, which had shown that eating almonds with main meals reduced some markers of oxidative damage
Oxidative damage leads to free-radical damage in our cells, which can lead to ageing; dis-ease and cancer so anything which reduces or reverses this process is great news!
As cited above, almonds are high in Vitamin E. This protects your cell membranes from damage and also protects your cells from oxidative damage
Almonds are among the world's best source of Vitamin E. There have been several studies linking Vitamin E intake with lower rates of heart disease; cancer and Alzheimer’s Disease
Almonds also help to control blood sugar levels. This makes them a perfect choice for diabetics as they are low in carbohydrates and high in healthy fats; protein and fibre
One of the other things that makes almonds so fabulously healthy for us is their remarkably high level of magnesium
Magnesium is a really important mineral and is involved in more than 300 bodily processes, including blood sugar level control
The current recommend daily intake for magnesium is 310-420mg. Just 54g (2oz) of almonds provides almost half of that amount, with 150mg of this important mineral
If you suffer from Type 2 Diabetes, you may be deficient in magnesium as it has been found in studies that up 25-38% of sufferers have a deficiency in this valuable mineral. Correcting this deficiency significantly lowers blood sugar levels and thus improves the function of insulin, so regularly eating 100g (4oz) almonds a day would help diabetics enormously with their insulin levels
An interesting fact is that studies have also shown that people without diabetes also see major reductions in insulin resistance when supplementing with magnesium, so adding almonds into our diets can only be a good thing!
This also indicates that high magnesium foods like almonds may be beneficial for the prevention of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, both of which are massive health problems in today's western world
Magnesium also helps to lower blood pressure. High blood pressure is one of the leading causes of heart attacks; strokes and kidney failure
It has been shown that a deficiency in magnesium is strongly linked to blood pressure problems, regardless of whether you are overweight or not
It has also been shown that almonds can lower the LDL (lipoproteins), “bad” cholesterol levels, which are a known contributor to the risk of heart disease
A 16-week study of 65 pre-diabetic adults, found that a diet with 20% of calories from almonds lowered the LDL cholesterol levels by an average of 12.4mg
There has also been another study showing that 42 g (1.6 oz) of almonds a day lowered the LDL cholesterol by 5.3mg whilst also maintaining the “good” HDL cholesterol level. In the same study, those eating almonds also lost fat from their tummy
One human study showed that snacking on almonds for one month lowered oxidized LDL cholesterol levels by 14%, which could lead to a reduction in the risk of contracting heart disease over time
Another fabulous benefit of eating almonds is that it reduces your hunger levels, thus reducing your overall calorie intake. Due to the fact that they are low in carbohydrates yet high in both protein and fibre, this helps to increase satiety, thus helping you to feel more full, so you then have less desire to overeat
There was a 4-week study carried out with 137 participants, which showed just 43g (1.7oz) of almonds a day significantly reduced hunger and the desire to eat
As a result of this, and the fact that only 85-90% of the calories in almonds are actually absorbed by the body, this can result in almonds being incredibly effective for weight loss
There are also some human studies carried out which verify these facts. One of them showed that a low-calorie diet containing 84g (3.3oz) of almonds daily increased weight-loss by 62% compared to a diet with complex carbohydrates
Another study of 100 overweight women found that those consuming almonds lost more weight than those in the nut-free group. They also had improvements in waist circumference and other health markers
So, despite being high in fat, almonds are most definitely weight loss-friendly!